Category Archives: What in tarnation?!@

“It’s like the super hot girl at the bar who is flirting with you but you don’t know if she actually is or if you even want her to for fear of what might happen.”

What is happening.

The Brewers keep winning.

The Cardinals just got swept by the Padres (first time since 1995).

Rickie Weeks is a MAN.

And suddenly, the Brewers are three games out of a playoff spot.

The point of this post is not to dissect their chances, which are all of a sudden worth dissecting. That will come. No, the purpose of this post is to point out how ABSURD this all is.

Two days ago–TWO DAYS–Baseball Prospectus had the Brewers’ playoff odds at 0.0%. In reality, it was probably something like 0.04% and they rounded down, but whatever. Two days ago. Today it is 1.8, and tomorrow it should jump up a good amount.

I don’t normally do this, but I’m going to interject a bit of my personal life into this post. I just started a demanding new job. I’m moving this weekend. In other words, I have a lot going on. I had come to peace with the fact that the Brewers were not making the playoffs this season, and I had even managed to look on the bright side: Not having to watch every inning of every game the rest of the year will actually be beneficial to my mental and physical well being.

So much for that. My last post was all about how I’m not getting sucked in, but that was when they were still over six games out. They’ve cut that in half in just a few days. I don’t particularly want to be invested in this, but at just three games out, I’m afraid I have no choice.

Special thanks to reader/commenter Shawn, the genius behind this incredibly accurate title/analogy for how I currently feel about the Brewers.

 

My response to the Journal-Sentinel’s ‘Seasons of Greatness’

Posted by Steve

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently completed their rankings of the top ten seasons in Wisconsin sports history. If anyone knows me, you know I of course thought of Ben Sheets’ 2004 season, that of 264 strikeouts to 32 walks. Incredible. This was the year of his 18 strikeout game, among other great performances (Incidentally, all the people whoever said Ben Sheets wasn’t tough probably don’t realize he threw 673 2/3 innings over the course of three seasons, or that he pitched all of 2004 with a herniated disc. But that’s not my point here, so I’ll move on).

What’s actually more incredible is the fact that nobody noticed that season happened. The win is obviously a horrible pitching “stat,” but this very season is why I hate that stat the most. Sheets finished eighth in Cy Young voting that year. The joys of playing for a crappy team.

Are you ready for an eye-popping statistic?

You sure?

Sheets’ WAR of 8.0 that year is higher than any NL Cy Young Winner since 2002 (tied with Lincecum)!

It’s one thing to go unnoticed on a national level, but apparently it wasn’t even noticed right here in Milwaukee.

Not that I expected Sheets’ 2004 to make the top 5 or 6, or even top 10 (though I would put him in), I certainly expected it to be in the discussion. Instead, it didn’t get one measly vote. One of the best seasons of its decade, and zero votes.

I’ll only stick to baseball players on their list, since comparing him to athletes from other sports seems pretty arbitrary, but Ben Sheets very likely has had the best season of any pitcher in Milwaukee baseball history–that’s Brewers and Braves–and it’s gone completely unrecognized in the teams’ own city! Here are some pitchers who beat him out.

CC Sabathia got seven votes. He wasn’t even here the full season, and his 2008 season was worse than Sheets’ 2004.

Warren Spahn got 7 votes for a season in which he struck out 111 and walked 78.

Lew Burdette got 4 votes for a season in which he struck out 78 (!) and walked 59. His ERA+ was 94, meaning he was below league average!

Rollie Fingers had a great year for a closer, but he threw 78 innings. This won him an MVP!? Insane. Also crazy to put him #9 on the list.

Clearly these “experts” just based it on A) team achievements and B) awards, such as MVP or Cy Young, which are often based on team achievements.

I swear, if I was given ten seconds on national television to say absolutely anything in the world, there’s a good chance it would be, “Ben Sheets’ 2004 season is one of the most underrated in history. Go look at the numbers.”

————————–

Changing gears here for a bit of news. I am happy to announce that I will be writing for a new site this year: Reviewing the Brew. It’s part of the growing FanSided blogging network, and it’s made some big strides since it started in 2009. They’ve asked me to join, and I’m excited to expand my audience and work with other writers.

Just to be clear, I will still be running this site and writing here plenty; I will just be writing there in addition. The idea is that this will help expand my audience, and hopefully bring more readers here as well. It won’t be the same content, either; I’ll have original stuff for both sites.

If you want to keep up with what I’m writing over there, the best way is to (sorry to say this) follow me on twitter. Anything I post at Reviewing the Brew will be linked on twitter. Look for my first post soon, likely on the topic of trading Nyjer Morgan.

As always, thanks to everyone for reading.

Ryan Braun wins his appeal

Posted by Steve

Excuse me.

More to come as news comes out. Until then… Think about how many times we’re going to hear that Bud got his Brewers off the hook.

Cool off-season, Brewers. Not.

Posted by Steve

When the Alex Gonzalez signing broke Friday, I figured I could wait til Monday to post about it. What was going to happen over the weekend, anyway?

So basically, we have the good (Alex Gonzalez signing), the bad (Aramis Ramirez signing), and the ugly (Braun).

It seems silly to talk in depth about Alex Gonzalez, which is what I would have done a few days ago. So for now, I’ll just say that the fact I’m excited about his signing goes to show how truly awful Betancourt was. Gonzalez isn’t a great shortstop by any means. He’s an awful hitter with just as poor OBP skills as Betancourt, or at least almost as poor. The reason I’m excited is because no matter what metric you consult, the consensus is that he’s a good fielding shortstop. That means he’s a fairly significant upgrade, and he was cheap and only for one year. Not bad, all things considered.

Really, this has to be about Braun…. But what is there to even say at this point? Other than this seems like a bizarre case, not too much. At the risk of sounding like a Giants fan defending Barry Bonds, the few details we do have seem so fishy that it sounds like he could be innocent, so I’m fully willing to reserve judgment until more information comes out. Even if he does end up looking to be clean, I am fully expecting him to be suspended. MLB is trying to look tough with their new PED program, and what better way to do that than by making an example of a superstar? Short of proof that some guy spiked Braun’s sample for banging his girlfriend or something, I don’t think MLB will accept his appeal.

One thing that seems hopeful are the reports that it was not a PED, but simply a “banned substance,” whatever that means. That could mean his suspension would be only 25 games, and might save Braun’s public image a bit.

I know I haven’t really said much, but I don’t know that there is much to say about it at this point.

So, let’s talk about Aramis Ramirez. You know, the guy who threw his helmet at my favorite player of all time. The guy who hit a crippling walk-off homer against the Brewers years ago. The guy who has been criticized for laziness, can’t field anymore, and is 34 years old.

The guy who now plays third base for the Brewers. Ugh.

Even putting aside the fact that I don’t like him at all, I hate this signing. I detailed why a couple posts ago, and Ramirez ended up getting even more money that I would have figured. I hate the fact that there’s a third year. Who was Doug Melvin bidding against? Nobody else was even reported to be interested in him. Why a third year? He can’t even play third base right now; I cringe to think of three years from now.

Really, the Brewers acquired yet another first baseman. Their overall disregard for defense is really getting old, as Ramirez is  worse than McGehee at third.

If the Brewers had $36 million or whatever burning a hole in their pocket, I wish they’d have spent it in a place where they didn’t have a viable replacement already. Edwin Jackson to replace Chris Narveson would have been a better use of that money, for example.

So now Taylor Green remains a backup for the next three years. To be honest, they might as well just trade him now. They’d get more value out of him that way.

For what it’s worth, and I’m just rambling now, if Braun is out I’d like to see Ramirez at first, Green at third and Gamel in left during that time.

But anyway. Some good news: as I was typing this, the Brewers traded Casey McGehee to the Pirates for reliever Jose Veras. I’m shocked they got something in return, but I’m glad they won’t be paying 3 million bucks or whatever for McGehee.

So I guess we’re looking at an infield of Ramirez, Gonzalez, Weeks, and Gamel. Probably about average offensively, while still below average defensively. I’d love the infield if it was only going to look like that for a year, but like I said, I don’t want Ramirez for three years.

So, I guess there isn’t too much left for the Brewers. They need to sign a utility infielder–I wouldn’t mind Nick Punto as a good defensive utility player, since Green is an offensive player. They also probably need to trade K-Rod, as their payroll is now over $100 million.

The Brewers, depending on Braun’s status, should still be good next year. My problem is that they could have still been good without overpaying for an aging Aramis Ramirez.

 

Well, crap.

Posted by Steve

Doug Melvin and the Brewers just got bamboozled: Apparently Francisco Rodriguez has decided to accept arbitration.

Goodbye draft picks and a good shortstop. Hello to the most expensive set-up man in baseball.

For the record, I don’t blame Doug Melvin at all. I would have done the exact same thing. I really wanted him to offer K-Rod arbitration. I didn’t think there was any way he’d accept. This is the guy who bitched and moaned during a playoff stretch because he wasn’t getting a chance to close games. There was no way he’d accept arbitration from a team who wouldn’t even use him as a closer. Obviously, he found that the market for closers wasn’t as good as he thought.

This is truly surprising, as Melvin only first mentioned this possibility just the other day. Clearly, he anticipated Rodriguez declining the arby offer.

“That hasn’t really been part of our thinking but it probably should be. Obviously, it would affect what you do in other things but he’d fill a hole that we have right now, too.”

So, what now?

The Brewers have a few options. They could still try to trade K-Rod. A couple years ago, Rafael Soriano accepted arbitration in a similar situation and was traded straight up for reliever Jesse Chavez. The Brewers could hope for something like this, and it’s probably the most desirable outcome.

Another option would be to flat out release him. Arbitration contracts are not guaranteed. He could be released before the end of Spring Training, and the Brewers would only be on the hook for 1/6 of his salary. Considering he made $11.5 million last year, he’ll probably be at around 13 mil, in which case the buyout would be a bit over $2 million. The Brewers released someone in this way a couple years ago… I want to say it was Claudio Vargas. That, of course, was a much smaller penalty since Vargas didn’t make nearly this much.

Here’s hoping the Brewers are able to deal KROD without having to pay much of his salary. Again, I don’t blame Melvin at all, but he gambled and lost. Now they have to deal with it.

To look on the bright side, here’s hoping this development prevents the Brewers from throwing a boatload of cash at Aramis Ramirez. They have even less money to work with now, so they need to focus solely on shortstop. That, or finding someone to take KROD and his @13 million off their hands.

Why not?

Posted by Steve

Well, this hasn’t gone well.

Since I last posted, things couldn’t have gone much worse baseball-wise. Satan held up his end of the bargain with Tony La Russa and David Freese, and the Cardinals finished off the Rangers for the World Series.

Then, TLR retired (some people were excited about this, but now the Brewers will never get to beat him).

Shortly after, the Cubs hired Theo Epstein away from the Red Sox.

And you just know the Cardinals are going to hire Terry Francona, one of the few good managers in baseball.

I couldn’t even get excited about the Brewers declining Yuniesky Betancourt’s option, because they’re apparently considering bringing him back at a lower price.

No, there isn’t much to feel good about right now on the baseball front.

I am amused by something though. All of a sudden, the hottest commodity for teams looking a new manager is…

Dale Sveum?

Really. He wasn’t good in his brief stint with the Brewers in 2008, but apparently that’s no matter. He becomes hitting coach for a team with some good hitters, and now all of a sudden he’s a hot commodity? For the Red Sox and Cubs?

Whatever. I hope he goes to the Cubs, because I’d like to see them bunt all the time, but considering the way things have been going, it will probably be Boston.

Impossible

Posted by Steve

The impossible just happened. The Diamondbacks lost the game, clinching homefield in the first round for the Brewers. The game reached the point of a statistical impossibility of a win.

Then they won.

Two outs. Nobody on. Down  by FIVE RUNS. And they won the game.

I am honestly willing to bet that has never happened in MLB history. 99.9% does not do this justice. This has to be about one in a million. I am not exaggerating; that is actually my guess.

This ruins the Brewers plans entirely. They could have used Greinke for an inning or two tomorrow in a meaningless game and had him ready for Game 2. Now they need to freaking win it. So do they pitch him the entire game in hopes of winning? That would push him back to Game 3. Or do they pitch him just an inning, save him for Game 2, and then pin their hopes for homefield on the arms of the entire bullpen for most of a game?

I cannot even communicate how stunned I am right now. This could not have happened. It’s truly impossible.